My happy place (AKA Ojo Caliente Hot Springs & Spa)

(Private pool + kiva fireplace + wine + star gazing – a boyfriend + 2 cousins = my romantic weekend gone slightly awry)

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I hesitate at my keyboard while writing this particular blog post, for fear that far too many of you might flock to my happy place while I’m there trying to get my relax on!

In any case, this little gem of a spot, the Ojo Caliente Hot Springs & Spa, deserves some attention.  Located about a 2-hour drive from my home base in Albuquerque and nestled between the towns of Taos and Española, Ojo Caliente is an out of the way hot springs worth a stop. (I warned you in a previous blog about my love for hot springs!) I appreciate the fact that Ojo is a little off the beaten path because that makes it quieter and more relaxing.  Locals have known about the hot springs here for…well, for hundreds of years.  (You can read more about the history here: Ojo Caliente History.)

The Pools at Ojo Caliente

I come to Ojo several times a year, but I didn’t hesitate to book an additional trip when two of my cousins came to see me here in New Mexico last weekend.  AND, while I’ve soaked here, had massages and reflexology here, eaten here, and had my fair share of wine here, this was my first opportunity to stay the night in the Ojo Caliente lodgings.

We ended up at my happy place in celebration of a cousin’s 40th Birthday.  We arrived later in the day on Sunday to a throng of people…more than the usual throng, too.  Turns out, we had just missed the Blessing of the Waters by the Monks of Drepung Loseling Monastery.  The Monks make it their mission to contribute to world peace and healing and they performed their blessing at Ojo Caliente to purify the elements of the already healing hot springs to keep visitors in good health and well being.  It’s a very nice sentiment.

We changed into our bathing suits and settled into the freshly blessed waters.  Bathing suits are required at Ojo Caliente at all times in the main pools.  (You’ll see that folks interpret the words bathing suit in many different ways.  I’ve seen people soak in all kinds of get ups, but the thing to know is you’ve got to cover up in the public pools.)  If you are a fan of soaking au naturale (ME!) or you can be convinced that you should try soaking in the buff (my two unsuspecting cousins), you can rent one of Ojo’s private pools by the hour…more on that later.

Mud Pool

There are several pools at Ojo each with slightly different mineral content designed to ease your aches and pains, bad mood, or digestion issues. The pools can range in temperature from 80 degrees all the way up to 109 degrees…you can pick the temperature you like best or spend your time moving from pool to pool as you like.  There’s also a mud area where you wet yourself down, slather yourself in mud, let said mud bake while relaxing in the sun and then soak yourself like a happy little piggy in the mud pool.  The mud removes toxins and is great for your skin.

I love the hot, hot pool and the enclosed soda spring pools the best, but you can’t really go wrong soaking and relaxing while admiring the gorgeous cliffside framed by the bluest blue New Mexico sky.  Ojo is designed to be a tranquil space (you can hike and do yoga here, too), so you are encouraged to whisper in most spots or maintain silence in others (like the soda pool). You’ll be reminded of the whisper rule if you get unruly, so do your best.  If my cousins and I can maintain quiet for a few hours, so can you.

Outside the tranquil atmosphere and magical waters, my next favorite thing is that you can dine in your bathing suit and bathrobe at the delicious Artesian Restaurant and Wine Bar.  Seriously, the fish tacos.  You’ll thank me.

North Cottages

Fortified by some snacks and adult beverages from the wine bar, we made our way back to the historic bath house to check in for our Legends of Ojo treatments – a 50 minute massage and a 25 minute ohm inducing reflexology treatment. (The reflexology gets me sooooo relaxed that I usually fall asleep on the massage table only to be awoken by the sound of my own giant snort of a snore).  There are many massage therapists working at Ojo Caliente.  They’re all amazing and they all come to the table with their own methodology and style.  Now, I like a little woo-woo cosmic mumbo-jumbo in my day, so I was thrilled that my therapist incorporated polarity work and chakra balancing into my treatment. You (and my cousins) may not enjoy that as much, so my advice is just to talk openly with your massage therapist about the kind of massage you’re hoping to receive.

Before retiring to our adorable cottage (clean, comfy, with its own bathroom!), we decided to treat ourselves to a soak in one of Ojo’s private pools.  I am a fan of naked swimming (maybe that’s TMI, but it’s true); and I found that my cousins could be convinced that they wanted to try a skinny dip, so we rented the Heron Pool from 9:00-10:00 pm.  The private pools are very secluded and you’ll be let into the locked space by a spa attendant.  No one can walk in unannounced and if the spa needs to reach you, they do so by intercom.  We had a gorgeous pool all to ourselves with a kiva fireplace and a view of the stars.  (Private pool + kiva fireplace + wine + star gazing – a boyfriend + 2 cousins = my romantic weekend gone slightly awry).  20170402_141521

The evening was perfect for relaxing and went slightly wonky when I suggested that my cousin snap a selfie of “our heads above the water” in our private pool.  We didn’t pay much attention to the fact that (a) my cousin has long arms and (b) her selfie camera has a flash. You’re not going to find that selfie on this blog as there’s A LOT more to see than just our three noggins. Fueled by wine and fits of laughter, our hour in the Heron Pool flew by and we retired to our room for a restful night’s sleep.

While I relish the quiet tranquility of an empty Ojo Caliente, you really should experience it for yourselves.  So come on over and say hello when you come check it out. I’ll be the one soaking in the hot, hot pool.


Author: missheatherlynnp

Heather Pillman is a frequent traveler and a sometimes freelance writer, who wanted a forum to write about her travels and humorous misadventures. After encouragement from friends, she took the leap and started a blog about her travels. An avid hiker, nature lover and photographer, Heather is always looking for her next travel adventure. She believes fantastic travel is happening everywhere and loves to explore the sites in her own backyard and abroad.

9 thoughts on “My happy place (AKA Ojo Caliente Hot Springs & Spa)”

  1. Hello Heather, thanks for the follow on my blog. Looking forward to browse more of yours. This sounds delightful though I will take time to reach your secret haunt – you shall be safe for a while. I often feel that way too when I write about a few places. It is okay to go through such dichotomy in life, eh?


  2. Hi Heather. I visited NM in 1996 and visited the Anasazi ruins and hiked to the rio grande. I wish I had known about your hot springs. Always wanted to try a mud bath. Sounds wonderful!


  3. This place sounds lovely. Thank you for sharing given that you may now find it overrun next time you go :). Your unfortunate and unpublishable photograph described in your private pool made me laugh out loud 🙂


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